I will preface this message by saying: "This won't sit well with everyone."
And by that I mean; some of us may be in the process of aborting incredible and/or important calls on our lives. Others of us may have already given up on God's directives, or mission for your lives. This could be anything from ministry, marriage, important relationships, a career, a vision or dream - and maybe even yourself.
Sadly, we live in a time, culture, and generation that teaches and advocates happiness, contentment, and instant gratification above all else. And unfortunately these tainted virtues have infiltrated the church and body of Christ. Thus, we are seeing less and less of a difference between "the church" and our "modern culture".
Romans 12:2 says that we should not conform to the patterns of this world. But be transformed by the renewing of our minds. The amplified Bible says it like this:
2 Do not be conformed to this world (this age), [fashioned after and adapted to its external, superficial customs], but be transformed (changed) by the [entire] renewal of your mind [by its new ideals and its new attitude], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God, even the thing which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His sight for you].
Unfortunately, I have to admit that I myself have fallen victim to the "feel good" mentality before. And "if the grass looks greener - go!" mentality as well. No one likes pain, confusion, and in some cases; long and exhausting work. Most people don't like waiting (including myself). We are in the "microwave" age. Where everything is:
"Faster, faster, faster!"
"Get more, with less effort!"
"Whatever makes you happy!"
"I just want you to be happy!"
Everything is being determined by our levels of happiness. And we are excusing it by saying and thinking "God just wants me happy". If only that were true. I believe God wants us to find joy and happiness in Him. But this idea that everything in our lives is determined or resolved, or answered by our state of happiness; is just plain wrong!
If something breaks (and I don't mean your T.V. remote) don't bother fixing it. If it is not perfect, it must not be right for you. If it's challenging, it must not be God's will for you. We say "God just wants me to be happy" and in response we immediately pursue whatever "we" want. And feel justified in doing so.
Of course at the expense of the destruction, pain, agony, and permanent emotional scars left behind the ruins of a divorced marriage that probably could have been reconciled (had we not quit). God surely wanted only that one person to be happy at the expense of the others who were left unhappy. In fact, that alone is an interesting idea to ponder. How does God pick who gets to be "happy" when that persons decisions or actions leave others hurt and very "unhappy". That whole mentality simply doesn't make sense.
I wish I could pull punches on this one. I wish I could sugar coat it. But the truth is, we are living in a generation that is drifting further and further away from godly character and principles. And we are embracing the idol called "self". We want what we want, and we will do whatever to get it. And when it stops gratifying us, or when it challenges us and forces us to put forth effort we opt for something else. Something easier and what we think will be more fulfilling.
Some of us will do anything to have our way. We want to be in control of our own lives and circumstances. We have our identities wrapped up in how this "world" and "society" see us. We place our value in what others think about us. We fall into the trap of perfectionism (which is basically just religious works) that we strive and strive to look acceptable to this world. To speak acceptably and be up to date on all the trends. To portray a life, that from the outside perspective, looks exciting and unique. To me, it's like a false and twisted competition (and iv'e been guilty of it). The more we socialize our lives and look to others; comparing and envying - getting offended by "this and that" or jumping on the latest bandwagon - we are losing our identities in Christ. And are being "swallowed" by the patterns of this world.
As a result, we see the same behavior in our lives (that are called to be different for a reason) by quitting so often, and so quickly - missing what God is trying to do in and through our lives. Furthermore, it teaches our children that it's ok for them to quit. Then on a larger scale, we have a bunch of people in the body of Christ quitting. Which tells the world that it's ok to quit. From what they see in us they might reason "Maybe God quits on us too?" since we are setting the example. Ultimately it becomes a downward spiral of quitting and giving up. And this epidemic has reached astronomical proportions.
I don't feel like it's necessary to quote lots of scripture or give cliche illustrations about how Jesus never "quit" on us etc. But I do want to challenge you to think and ponder about where you are at in your own life today. Think about your attitude, evaluate yourself and be real. Are you someone who "quits" when things get tough, hard, painful, challenging, scary, fearful, or costly? Or do you run to God for peace, strength, understanding, and perseverance. One biblical principle I will mention is that Jesus Himself promised us difficulty in this life. And a lot of us want to live under His blessing and favor, but we don't want to pay the price that comes along with it. We want what God has for us, until it costs us our comfort. We don't want to have to endure, be stretched, and die to ourselves. We don't want to have to "try" harder and exhaust all our options before considering if quitting should be the best option.
Another area where I have seen this at work is in how we mentor and advise each other. For many of us, when times get tough we naturally reach out to those we love and trust for comfort and advice. And more and more it seems that we have shifted to giving this "self-gratification" theology. If you're in a tough season, just find a way to get out. If you are unhappy, just find the thing, person, or job that will make you happy. We feed each other with the same philosophy of "seek first the kingdom of self, and worry about everything else afterwards". And again, as a result we go round and round in circles in our lives with little to show for our actions and decisions. And for some of us, we keep ending up in the same place, doing the same thing, having the same struggles. Still confused, still afraid, still searching and looking for the ever evasive "Will of God". When the Bible says if we stop conforming to the patterns of the world - renew our mind - we will discover God's will for our lives. Instead of seeking first the kingdom of God and advising each other to pursue God for what He wants us to do in any given situation.
I wonder how many of us have missed opportunity after opportunity. Blessing after blessing. Because we simply quit too soon. How many of us have even asked God for something, received it, and then threw it away because we quit too soon (for whatever reason). It really wasn't that long ago when marriages (for instance) were lasting 30-50 years. And stability in our culture had a prominent presence in the church, in the family, and in our careers and lives. Because the generations before us understood the principles of cost, value, and perseverance. Back then it was actually frowned upon, and counter-cultural to quit and give up quickly (if at all). And unfortunately, we are trading up for an "anything" goes mentality as long as it caters too and gratifies "me". We are losing the value of the very things most of us would consider "most" valuable to us. Bouncing around from one thing to the next. Abandoning anything the moment it displeases us and leaves us less than satisfied. Desensitizing ourselves further to "value" and godly principles.
My challenge to you:
Consider the areas in your life where you may want to quit right now. Or areas in your life where you may have already quit and given up. Commit yourself to seeking God's heart on the matter. Commit to dying to yourself, and letting God show you if what you gave up on was His will or not. If God has given you crystal clarity and closed those doors in your life, that is certainly another matter. As obedience to His directing should always be our goal and aim. But if God shows you or convicts you in an area of your life that He did not advise you to give up on, I would challenge you to ask God how you can accomplish His will in that circumstance right now. And then commit to it. And overall, be someone who resolves to quit "quitting". And let God be the guide in your life. God will never plague your life with something that is ultimately not for your good. God's ways are not our ways. And His timing is not our timing. And sometimes we need to see the process through from beginning to end to realize what He was up too. But if we are constantly quitting to simply find an easier path with less hardship; one we can control and feels good - we will never see the fullness of God at work in our lives. And likely, we will contribute to the brokenness and confusion that Jesus came to abolish. And miss out on God's very best for our lives.
Don't give up! God's not done yet!